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Brightcove Whitepaper Reaching Your Audience


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Brightcove Whitepaper Reaching Your Audience

  1. 1. Reaching Your Audience A Practical Guide to Online Video Distribution White paper Online video is becoming more and more widespread, To develop a video distribution strategy that fits your and the nature of its audience is rapidly changing. publishing goals, it is essential to fully understand the eMarketer predicts that before the end of 2008, over range of online video options available. Having a clear one-half of the US popuation will have watched video picture of the challenges and benefits presented by each on the Internet and that by 2009 more than 80% of all video distribution scheme is critical to making the right Internet users will be video viewers. decision for your organization’s video distribution needs. As the volume and demographic profile of the people This white paper is designed to serve as a guide who access online video changes, content owners, to understanding the various approaches to video producers, and Web publishers are experimenting with distribution, and to help you establish an a variety of online distribution strategies. Some are online video distribution strategy that fits discovering new ways to access their audience directly your company’s goals. for the first time, while others find themselves displaced by a new breed of video publishers who play by new rules.
  2. 2. 2 Introduction The Distribution Mindset Media companies with a “distribution” mindset work hard to provide Historically, both approaches have been legitimate paths to success. their viewers with the most convenient possible access to their Media companies with restrictive strategies have enjoyed the prestige online video. These companies do every thing they can to create of exclusivity and higher margins, while those that distribute widely value by closing the gap between their content and their audience. have happily traded lower margins for impressive volume and brand If your business succeeds by making your content available in a ubiquity. It is important to consider which approach your variety of formats across multiple screens and devices then you are organization is currently taking. Perhaps more importantly, you operating with a distribution mindset. should also consider whether the factors and concerns that led your company to choose this approach still apply in today’s ever-changing Media companies with a “restrictive” mindset, on the other hand, online video environment. increase the gap between their content and their audience— whether they intend to or not. They do this by offering only limited For example, have your competitors found better ways to add value editions of their content for purchase, by retaining exclusive rights to their content by making it easier to access? Have they reduced to content, or severely restricting access to distribution channels. their discovery costs? Have they placed their content in a context that In general, the only companies who can succeed with this mindset is more directly relevant to your shared audience’s interests? If so, are those with phenomenal content and powerful brands that can you may inadvertently find yourself in a relatively restrictive position convince their audience it’s worth the extra effort and expense to within your market despite your best intentions. This could cost you find and view their content. your audience. To develop a distribution mindset, it’s crucial to understand how online video distribution works, and to know how to make the changes that are required to compete in today’s market. This white paper is intended to outline the tools and distribution strategies available to help you meet your online video objectives. We’ve divided the material into the following sections: Benefits of Online Video Distribution Online Video Distribution Strategies Popular Monetization Models Strategic Considerations Worksheet Conclusion © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. 3 The Benefits of Online Video Distribution Most successful businesses are good at serving their target market. Drive On-Site Traffic However, there are still millions of untapped customers that simply Distributed video can drive traffic back to your website and increase cannot be reached in traditional ways with traditional resources. your on-site advertising impressions. Post-roll suggestions for related Video content is no exception. Pursuing a distribution strategy that videos and similar video widgets can be effective ways to direct aligns with your goals can open up new revenue streams, increase viewers to your own destination site. traffic to your website, build a more widely known and influential brand, and tap into previously unreachable customer bases. Regardless of your motivation—making money, spreading a message, or building a brand—the right mix of distribution tactics will maximize the value of your content and audience. In 2006, the Access to Audience consumer electronics company Blendtec launched an extremely You can think of your site traffic as a variable stream of activity that successful viral marketing campaign which used an online video to fluctuates according to time of day, popular trends, and your own ask viewers, “Will it blend?”. One of the campaign’s key benefits was efforts to optimize the discovery of your content. Your ultimate goal that it drove significant traffic to and their should be to channel this stream without disrupting its flow. One minisite. It also drastically improved their SEO by of the best ways to promote discovery of your content is Search seeding the Web with tens of thousands of inbound links from Engine Optimization (SEO). embedded clips—all of which helped the company achieve its ultimate goal of selling more blenders. Targeting Your Message Distribution strategies can help build awareness of emerging Marketing Insights programs and brands to an existing audience, or help evangelize Online video distribution can also provide more subtle benefits, such your message to a new, broader audience. By maintaining a high as capturing a broader mix of reporting data to compare the degree of control over the presentation of your online video content, performance of your content across different demographics and you can accurately target and deliver your message to the right different types of websites. This data can inform your content viewer at the right time. optimization strategies for particular audiences, and also provide insight into your broader marketing strategies. Expand Monetization Opportunities The video advertising inventory on your own site is limited to the number of viewers that you are able to attract each day. By Speed of Distribution distributing your advertising along with your content and While the typical online video draws viewers long after publication, many experience, you can achieve faster growth in your available ad have a surprisingly short shelf life—in fact, 50% of all online video views occur within in the first two weeks of publication (TubeMogul). Publishers need to keep this pattern in mind when making distribution decisions, and should refresh content regularly to keep consumers coming back. Distribution Challenges As of April 2008, there were an estimated 167+ million websites and more than 45 billion individual pages on the Web (Netcraft). This increasingly fragmented audience poses a significant challenge for publishers seeking to distribute video content online. In our experience, rather than trying to set up a large number of distribution partnerships, publishers can build an audience just as effectively through a viral distribution strategy. Managed syndication relationships are most effective when limited to a small number of large affiliate partners who provide significant traffic and audience with minimal risk and management. You can increase your audience by focusing on the optimization of a key group of targeted affiliates. © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. 4 Online Video Distribution Strategies Online video distribution can be broadly categorized into two main A great way to encourage your viewers to engage in viral distribution strategies: 1) viral distribution; and 2) managed syndication. These is to offer the ability to post directly to their favorite social network strategies differ across aspects of content control, distribution or bookmarking service. Putting these options front and center gives your viewers quick and easy access to the places and people that mechanism, brand control, distribution velocity, and monetization they regularly share with. The demographics of your user base should potential. determine which options you showcase on your video pages. Popular examples include Facebook, Myspace,, and Digg. Viral Distribution With the emergence of YouTube and other online video One challenge to keep in mind when considering viral distribution aggregators, as well as broad distribution services like TubeMogul is that it can be difficult for publishers to directly monetize virally and Vidmeter, viral distribution has become a mainstream marketing distributed content. Online advertisers may be wary of sponsoring channel for any online video producer. Even once-traditional media content when they do not have a full understanding of the context in companies like The Washington Post have embraced viral which it will be viewed. distribution as a critical component of their online video distribution strategy. The degree to which viral distribution dominates overall Managed Syndication online video strategy can vary significantly depending on the type An alternative to viral distribution is managed syndication. Under this of content you produce and your objectives. model, you create your own audience network by selecting a set of trusted affiliates who publish your content within their site or Viral distribution is the most open form of online video distribution. application. You can negotiate how much control you will retain You can allow viewers to publish content anywhere on the over your content, programming, brand, and advertising, as well as Internet by acquiring the publishing code, sharing via email, or posting directly to a blog or social network. The key benefit of this how much of that control will be ceded to your distribution partners strategy is to increase the velocity at which your content is shared or affiliates. and discovered online by viewers, who can then be easily drawn back to your own website. Managed syndication relationships can take various forms and can range from small partners to major portals. We have found that you can build an effective audience network by concentrating resources on a small set of partners that you’ve determined are capable of producing significant traffic for your content and then providing them with the flexibility and support they need to succeed. Some topics to consider include: Content What content will you provide to your distribution partner? How often will you refresh the content? Who controls programming the content? Mechanism How will you distribute content to a distribution partner? Whose video player will be used to display the content? How will that player be branded? Monetization Will the content or player contain advertising? If so, who will sell/control the advertising? Are there other monetization options available? Expectations AOL & Discovery Does your distribution partner have the capacity and willingness to generate an audience for your content? What do your distribution partners hope to achieve by syndicating your content? Do these objectives align with your own? © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. 5 Popular Monetization Strategies Publishers use a variety of monetization strategies in conjunction expectations and other details as well. For instance, the Hulu video with online video. Each strategy has its own benefits and challenges. portal is believed to offer a 70/20/10 deal under which the content owner receives 70% of the advertising revenue, Hulu takes 20%, and Licensing any third parties that distribute the content beyond the Hulu portal Licensing involves selling the rights to distribute your video online receive 10%. The CBS Audience Network uses a 90/10 revenue split over a specified period of time. In the traditional scenario, this means with distribution partners1. selling content to Web publishers who want to monetize their audience themselves. These publishers retain the ability to sell their Inbound Links own ads and will cover any bandwidth costs associated with Distribution can drive traffic back to your website through attribution distributing your video content. Alternatively, you may want to inside and outside the video player. Depending on the relationship license with a revenue-share component. In this scenario, you would that you structure with your affiliates, you can include a link back to retain a portion of any ad revenue generated in exchange for the use your site through a logo overlay (a watermark) within your videos of your content. In this case, advertising is sold either by you or the and/or outside of the video player. This helps drive additional traffic distributor, and the revenue is split between the two of you. to your website and increases monetization opportunities such as display advertising, subscriptions, and cross-promotion of other products or services. Extend Your Brand Throughout the distribution process, you should seek Another great way to drive traffic back to your website is through opportunities to extend your own brand. This can be accomplished through logo overlays or watermarks, brief widgets. By partnering with both widget developers and widget bumpers, or through a separate attribution agreement worked distribution networks, you can virally spread a custom video widget out with your distribution partner through which a link and/or to a broad audience. In most cases, you will be involved in the design logo for your site is placed near your content. and creation of the widget, and will have the ability to fully control Ad-Supported Revenue Sharing Providing affiliates with both your video content and a customized player can expand your ad inventory and enlarge your audience while retaining control of the advertising displayed on affiliate sites. By distributing content through your own player, you can aggregate analytical data across your distribution network to clearly communicate performance and demographic information back to advertisers. It is possible to syndicate your player to an affiliate by use of simple publishing code or, if more sophisticated integration is required, through video player Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These mechanisms are covered in depth in the next section of this white paper. In a typical ad-supported revenue sharing relationship, your organization is usually responsible for covering the costs of & Sony BMG bandwidth. This type of relationship requires you to offer a percentage of your advertising revenue to the affiliate as payment for the traffic they generate. You can structure the relationship so that Communication the amount you will be required to pay is predicated on the Transparency about goals, expectations, and limitations—on your part, affiliate achieving an agreed-upon stream volume. Generally speaking, as well as your partners’—is essential to a successful distribution relationship. revenue sharing delivers anywhere between 10-20% of ad revenue Sharing useful information with your partners will help to build a mutually to the affiliate partner. The actual percentage can vary according to beneficial relationship. You can give distributors insight into which content drives the most value by providing both qualitative and quantitative the specific agreement in place. This is true of promotional/volume information about the performance of videos on your own sites. Successful publishers also communicate regularly with their group of trusted affiliates to keep them updated about new content and special features. © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. 6 Mechanisms for Distribution Publishers use a variety of monetization strategies in conjunction This mechanism is ideal for distributors who would like your content with online video. Each strategy has its own benefits and challenges. to display in their player with their advertising, but are not interested in paying for the hosting and delivery of the actual files. For content Publishing Code owners, this mechanism provides an alternative to older licensing A simple and popular way to distribute content online is to provide models where physical hard drives were sent to distribution partners. an affiliate with the publishing code for a player, which can include In contrast to the physical distribution of assets, this model does not a single video or several videos with pre-programmed playlists. require giving up full control of your video assets, as they are still Player format, sizing, and content programming are negotiated with being delivered from your CDN. your trusted affiliate sites to meet the objectives of your distribution relationship. Player distribution can be a convenient way to replicate This tried and true approach works well when dealing with a limited content across many different distribution nodes with minimal effort number of very trusted distribution partners who demand a great and maintenance. One drawback of this method is that it is relatively degree of flexibility and control of video content. However, it is inflexible and may present challenges for larger affiliates who require important to keep in mind that under this arrangement, you do not custom or unique display requirements. have any control over the advertising, analytics, branding, or sharing tools used with the content. Viral Embed Code Viral embed code allows individual users to act as distributors, XML or MRSS sharing your content freely without the complication of having to XML or Media RSS feeds are standard methods of distributing online arrive at a mutually agreeable deal, or the additional hurdle of having video content, and include all the relevant metadata and identifica- to accomplish a technical integration. You can offer your viral embed tion required to display a particular video. code within your video player or adjacent to it on a Web page. Viewers can take the viral embed code and place it on their own Requirements for feed format and included metadata can vary website or blog, or share it through a social network or social depending on the distributor you are working with. If significant bookmarking service. modifications are required, you may want to consider using a more flexible mechanism such as a Web Services API, which allows for a greater degree of convenience and customization. Application Programming Interface (API) Distributing content via a Web Services API gives your distributor secure access to your media catalog. With the API the distributor can query and format your metadata to their own internal specifica- tions in real-time. This mechanism allows you to keep your content updated and limit the number of specific feed formats that you must support for different distribution partners. Your distribution partners can independently build feeds from the API, publish directly to their site, or import metadata to their content management system. Clearspring & Sony BMG Flexibility Your large-scale distribution partners have their own businesses, brands, and audiences to consider. They need to be able to weave your content into their site in ways that are consistent with their objectives. The lat- File Transfer est advances in video platform technology give affiliates the added The file transfer mechanism gives your distribution partners direct flexibility they need with the integration of your player while access to the video files on your Content Delivery Network (CDN), preserving your desired level of control. and allows them to stream your video content directly through their own player and to control all aspects of advertising, analytics, and overall presentation. © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. 7 Strategic Considerations Worksheet Pre-Launch Considerations As you are planning your distribution initiative, keep in mind the following strategic considerations: Will you concentrate your efforts on driving traffic back to your own site or will you focus on ways to make your content easy for your audience to discover and consume? Your answer to this question will impact every aspect of your distribution strategy. It is critical to your success to choose the strategy that will best accomplish your goals. What do you hope to achieve through online video distribution? Will you pursue an ad-supported strategy or a licensing strategy? A good distribution strategy should be aligned with your overall site and publishing objectives. Establishing an understanding of your objectives as well as your monetization approach will make it easier to plan and execute your Have you aligned resources to manage your distribution initiative? It is important that your team commits to your strategy and understands how the tactics you have selected are going to meet your goals. Both your technical experts and business development team should understand their roles and how How will you promote your distribution program and find distribution partners? Some publishers choose to promote their distribution strategy through targeted business development efforts, while others may look towards one-to-many channels, such as a ‘partners’ section on their website. A hybrid effort where members of your team personally reach out to potential partners while your website offers information also aimed at drawing partners in can be especially effective. What type of content will you distribute? Will you distribute all of your available content, or retain some for exclusive use? Will you distribute short form, long form, or both? Having new content readily available on a predictable basis is essential for success. We advise that you communicate the frequency of content refresh when establishing your distribution relationships. Can you clearly define the top three reasons why a major website would want to distribute your content? You should communicate these reasons to your prospective partners and determine whether they have different reasons for wanting to distribute your © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. 8 Assessing Partners You should always fully qualify your formal distribution partners prior to delivering content to them. Consider these four key considerations when assessing potential distribution partners: What is your partner’s capacity for traffic? Current video and site traffic is an effective metric for assessing a potential distribution partner. However, the distributor’s capacity for traffic in the future is even more important. Ideally, content will help your distributor grow their site’s traffic. The design and technical functionality of their website must be sufficient to meet high viewer standards and usage. How relevant is your content to your distributor? The content on your affiliate’s site should be presented in a way that will encourage viewership; it should be easily visible, searchable, and clearly connected to other relevant content. Your distributors should also refresh the What kind of business agreement will optimize your relationship with your distribution partner? You should be clear about the terms of your agreement up front, and realize that this agreement may change as your partnership evolves. Even while acknowledging the possibility of changes to your agreement, all partners should nevertheless strive to meet the expectations of the other party and, if needed, frankly discuss alternative structures. Does your distribution partner have the team and commitment required to succeed? It is essential that your partner and their team are actively engaged in the success of your relationship. Their team should have the commitment and expertise to implement your agreed-upon strategy and the willingness to © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. 9 Post-Launch Considerations Are the economic rewards generated by the distribution relationship favorable for all parties? If direct monetization is the driving force behind a distribution relationship, it is essential to make sure that all participants see a benefit. If you are using an ad-based model, what you are willing to pay affiliates on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis? Are there secondary benefits to working with a specific affiliate? What metrics will you use when assessing these options? How will you ensure that your distribution partners become promoters of your content and brand? Ongoing communication is essential for success, as you provide the tools and information necessary for your distribution partners to promote your content. Be sure to message internally to your team and externally to your partners. Communicate details about the videos that are available for distribution, pointing out popular title, playlists, or feeds. How will you optimize your distribution channel? Analyze the performance of your content across different players and distributors to understand which titles are performing. Share this data and best practices with your distribution partners. What can I do to help my distributors add value to my content? Your objective is to add as much value to your content as possible in the interests of growing your audience and increasing loyalty to your brand. Ask your distribution partners what you can do to make it easier for them to distribute your content and add value to it. Your partners have already built their audience and are agreeing to share it with you. In return, be flexible and creative in your support of them. © 2008 Brightcove Inc. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Conclusion Publishers have a wide range of options available when considering their online video distribution strategy. To determine the right formula, they must evaluate and balance their needs for control, monetization, and widespread distribution. Whether you are creating a network of large affiliates or building broad viral distribution, the best practices and tactical questions outlined in this white paper will help you begin making the decisions you need to develop a distribution strategy that makes sense for your organization’s goals and objectives. Ultimately, the success of your initiatives will depend on how well you can adapt to the needs of your affiliate network and how efficiently you can opti- mize your content, monetization, and logistics. About Brightcove Brightcove is the leading online video platform used by media companies, businesses and organizations worldwide to publish and distribute video on the Web. Our on-demand platform is used by hundreds of organizations in nearly every corporate and social sector for online video initiatives that reach more than a hundred million Internet users every month. To learn more about Brightcove and how we can help you implement your online video strategy, visit or contact our sales team at (617) 674-6500. 1 and One Cambridge Center 617 674 6500 tel Cambridge, MA 02142 617 395 8352 fax